SPS 138: Changing Culture & Representation Through Children’s Books with Dr. Thomishia Booker

Posted on Sep 29, 2022

Dr. Thomishia Booker is here to talk about the phenomenal success that her self-published books have brought her. She started publishing in 2016 after being inspired by the birth of her son and her inner child. Dr. Booker is a licensed therapist who provides programmatic and staff supervision for hospital outpatient services. She has also managed non-profit mental health programs. She also has diverse experience managing funding and grant writing. 

She is passionate about diversity and inclusion in children’s entertainment and building self-confidence and pride among children in the 3-5 year range. She used her passion and experience to create The Hey Carter! Children’s Book Series. She is the CEO and owner of Hey Carter! Incorporated. Hey Carter! Books curates books, products, experiences that ensure black children, specifically boys, are reflected positively. 

We get to learn what inspired her books and why she chose self-publishing. How her first launch went and what she did and didn’t do. We even discovered creative marketing for a niche that blew her books up and got her books featured on Netflix. We learn how continued marketing pays off and market more once it does. Dr. Booker also shares the pros of self-publishing, especially with children’s books. We learn how she used vendor events to promote her books, how her books ended up in schools and became a Teachers’ Pick on Amazon. 

Show Highlights

  • [02:13] Dr. Booker started writing when she was expecting her first son. She wanted to create something for her son where he could see himself in it. 
  • [02:52] Her first book was called My Brown Skin which was a love letter to her inner child. She wrote about some of the things that she needed as a little girl growing up.
  • [03:34] Speaking to her inner child just made the process easier and the intention behind the book much more clear. She wanted all children to know that they are loved and cherished. She wanted black children specifically to know their beauty. Having a child is kind of like holding a mirror up to yourself.
  • [05:11] Starting out with a passion project focused on her son really made the writing process easier in the beginning.
  • [07:12] Writing a book is similar to bringing a child into the world. As the parent or author of the book, Dr. Booker learns something about herself in every book that she writes.
  • [08:20] It’s important that what we put in children’s books reflects positivity. We want to allow children to learn in a way that makes sense for who they are.
  • [10:27] Dr. Booker wanted to own her stories. She went with self-publishing because of timing and wanting to own her stories. There are endless financial possibilities with self-publishing. She also enjoys being in control of the illustration process. 
  • [13:14] With her first books, she put her books on Amazon and did vendor events. She also used social media. Dr. Booker now knows to have a launch strategy with her newer books. She saw increasing sales when she had more clarity on that.
  • [17:30] Sometimes you have to just get out there and do it. It’s okay to learn along the way. Dr. Booker had a message that she wanted to get out. She kept marketing every year to reach more readers. 
  • [18:39] A pivotal moment for her was when she got a deal with Netflix for her books. She knew her ideal customer, and it was very clear why the books were created. 
  • [20:30] Niche vender events and niche Facebook groups helped her sell the most books. Local community events have vendors that can buy booths. Cultural events have worked well where Dr. Booker is the only book vendor. Schools have purchased books too. 
  • [28:10] Look at the potential event and think about how successful you will be there and whether it’s a good use of your time. 
  • [30:05] Netflix reached out to Dr. Booker. Her books aligned with the ideas of building self confidence and pride. It was a moment of synergy. She was the only self published author on the show. 
  • [31:10] At this point, she decided to diversify her marketing plan and bring on a PR firm. They worked on getting her message out there and crafting her story to get her books out there.
  • [32:46] One year after Netflix and people are still talking about her story and her book.
  • [33:29] She got Teachers’ Pick on Amazon. It came after Netflix. More people have seen the book, and they have it in classrooms. 
  • [34:41] If you have a book in you, just do it. Get some help and support doing it. There are so many resources out there. You don’t have to go it alone. 

Links and Resources

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Brittany

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